Change and Continuity

Bella Millett

in The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Literature in English

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199229123
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Change and Continuity

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This article examines the change and continuity of the English sermon before the year 1250. It explains that the early history of the English sermon is out of step with the history of the European sermon as a whole because the skills of reading and writing in this period were normally the preserve of clerical and monastic communities, and literacy among the laity was rare. It suggests that the political and institutional changes which followed the Norman Conquest had a major impact on sermon production in English and mentions that there is very little evidence for the production of new written sermon-material in English in the century after the Conquest. The earliest surviving manuscripts of sermons in Old English is the Vercelli Book.

Keywords: English sermon; monastic communities; literacy; laity; Norman Conquest; sermon production; Vercelli Book

Article.  9873 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (Early and Medieval)

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